Why is Hydrology Important?
Water is essential for tree growth and survival. Water is also tightly coupled to forest energy and nutrient budgets. In many tropical forests, trees obtain their water from surface soil that is highly weathered and interspersed with macropores that quickly move rainwater from the surface into stream channels. Where the water table is shallow or if trees have deep roots, groundwater can also be an important source. Understanding and modeling how surface and subsurface plant water availability varies across the landscape and through time are essential for predicting how tropical forests will respond to hydroclimate change, including drought.
Limited data from tropical forests has constrained our understanding of surface water-groundwater interactions, which have important implications for tree mortality, evapotranspiration and forest carbon balance. Further, current Earth system models do not represent key hydrodynamic processes, variability in surface and subsurface water and nutrient availability, and the plant hydraulic traits that govern forest response to hydrologic variability. To address these challenges, NGEE-Tropics is advancing understanding and model representation of the spatial and temporal variability in tropical forest surface and subsurface water and its availability to plants.
NGEE-Tropics is advancing understanding and model representation of the spatial and temporal variability in tropical forest surface and subsurface water and its availability to plants.
In Phase 1 of NGEE-Tropics, we address HYDROLOGY by:
- Assessing uncertainty in hydrologic model formulations and comparing the robustness and scalability of alternative approaches
- Collaborating with international scientists to develop multi-scale datasets for evaluating coupled hydrologic-vegetation modeling in Manaus, Brazil
- Evaluating a hierarchy of hydrologic models against datasets from the Brazilian Amazon as building blocks of a multi-scale modeling framework for tropical forests